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HP refreshes desktop PC lineup

The company introduces several new PCs, including a pair based on AMD's Athlon XP processor and some systems with a chassis in dark blue and gray.

Hewlett-Packard refreshed its desktop PC lineup this week with new components and a splash of color.

The company introduced several new PCs, including a pair based on Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon XP processor and some systems with a new chassis in dark blue and gray.

The AMD-based PCs are aimed at midrange buyers, while HP's new Intel-based desktops include models priced for entry-level and midrange customers. The systems join new offerings from Compaq Computer and Emachines, also restyled for spring, that have been released in the last few weeks.

HP shares more than just fashion sense with some of its competitors, however. Like them, it's also raising prices somewhat on low-end machines, under the guise of product refreshes. Others, such as Sony, have chosen to raise prices on existing PCs.

HP's new Pavilion 511n, for example, costs a bit more than its predecessor, the 501n. For $649, it includes a 1.3GHz Intel Celeron processor, 128MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive and a CD-rewritable drive, but it does not include a monitor.

Although Compaq and others have discontinued their lower-cost, entry-level machines, HP appears to be keeping the 501n, priced at $599, around for at least a while. It is still available via the HPShopping.com Web site and from retailers such as Best Buy.

Meanwhile, HP's new AMD-based Pavilion 521n offers an Athlon XP 1600+ (1.4GHz) processor, 256MB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive, and CD-RW and DVD drives. It's priced at $799 without a monitor. HP has offered Athlon-based systems for some time via its build-to-order program, but it's been about three months since it last offered the chip in pre-built systems sold at retail.

HP also introduced more expensive midrange PCs, which offer larger allotments of memory, bigger hard drives and faster CD-RWs.

The 751n, for example, will offer a 1.8GHz Pentium 4 from Intel, along with 256MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, a CD-RW drive and a DVD drive. It will sell for $1,049 without a monitor. The 761n will offer an Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67GHz) chip along with 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and CD-RW and DVD drives. It is priced at $1,149 without a monitor.

The new Pavilion 771n, which sports the new chassis design, will offer a 2GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and dual CD-RW and DVD drives. It will sell for $1,399 without a monitor.

The most popular kind of monitors paired with PCs, 15-inch and 17-inch CRTs (cathode-ray tubes), typically start at prices ranging from $100 to $200. Flat-panel monitors, which are gaining in popularity, start around $400 for a 15-inch model.